Wednesday, 5 September 2018 : 22nd Week of Ordinary Time, Memorial of St. Teresa of Kolkata, Religious (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Green or White (Religious)

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day all of us are reminded of our mission as Christians, that is to go forth proclaiming the Good News of God and to preach His truth among the people, by our words and actions. We are all reminded that unless we remember this mission given to us by God, it will be very easy for us to fall into the temptation of this world, and forget our mission and purpose of serving God.

This was presented in plain sight in the Epistle that St. Paul wrote to the Church and the faithful in the city of Corinth in Greece. Even at that very early stage in the history of the Church, when the community of the faithful was just being established, there were already evident divisions and disagreements among the members of the Christian communities, stemming from the jealousy, misunderstandings and disagreements between factions.

The name Paul, referring to St. Paul, was mentioned in that Epistle passage, as was the name of Apollos. If we read the entirety of the Acts of the Apostles, we will realise that Apollos was the name of a famous and eloquent preacher of Jewish origin, who converted to the Christian and originated from the city of Alexandria. He was a widely respected and popular preacher, who managed to convert many among the Gentiles and Jews in various cities.

At the same time, St. Paul was also very active in his ministry among the Gentiles and Jews alike in various places throughout the eastern Mediterranean area, including Corinth and many other important cities like Ephesus, Philippi, Thessalonica among many others. But as there were some variations in their teachings, it ended up with the community being divided into those who followed the teachings of St. Paul, and those who followed the teachings of St. Apollos.

This division in the community in fact created such a scandal, that St. Paul had to address this very issue in the Epistle he wrote to the Corinthian Christian community. He reminded all of them, that ultimately, so long as the people of God continued to think in the worldly terms, and as long as they were concerned about their prestige, worldly fame, ambitions, pride and greed, all sorts of worldly temptations, they would continue to be divided and became bitter against each other.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this is what the devil and all of his forces wanted to happen to us in the Church. He wants each and every one of us as Christians to be divided against each other, and that we have doubts and mistrust over one another, and as a result, making it very easy for him and his allies to strike at us and to claim us victoriously, as he drags many souls with him into eternal damnation.

That is why it is important that all of us must stay united and committed to the Lord, Our God, in Whom we believe in. As what St. Paul said to the faithful in Corinth, regardless of whoever it was that evangelised to them, be it Apollos, or Paul, or any other of the Apostles and disciples of the Lord, ultimately they were His ministers, tasked with the evangelisation and spreading of the Good News to all the faithful.

What made the people to bicker among themselves and disagree with one another, was likely their pride and refusal to acknowledge that they did not have the fullness of truth, or that others might have a better understanding of the faith that them. But in that process, they forgot that they were serving the Lord and must obey His will. Instead, they were focused on themselves and their own selfish desires, their desires to be praised and followed for their piety.

And the irony is that, in the Gospel passage today, even evil spirits had to acknowledge the Lord as their God and Master. Even they were bound to the Lord, for although they have disobeyed God, but it was an undeniable fact that the Lord is their God and Creator. They had to bend their knee before the Lord, no matter how painful or humiliating that would have been to them.

Unfortunately, it was often us mankind who have not shown our proper deference and respect for God, as we are often too preoccupied with the many concerns and temptations of this world. That is why many of us have ended up losing our faith and our direction in life, that instead of finding our way to God, we become lost in the darkness of this world, the darkness of desire, of pride, of ambition and vanity.

Today, the Church celebrates the life of the holy and renowned saint, St. Teresa of Kolkata. She was remembered fondly in life as Mother Teresa, an Albanian religious who came to India to minister to the poor and the needy in the community, eventually establishing the religious community of the Missionaries of Charity, dedicated to the care and the need of all those who are the least, the poorest and the smallest in the community, providing them the love and the dignity they deserved.

St. Teresa of Kolkata was remembered for the great love and compassion she showed to all the people, the poorest and the weakest among the people, including all those who were abandoned on the streets and dying. She established a house dedicated to the care of all these sick people and the dying, providing for them the example of true Christian charity and love.

And she was also remembered for her great humility and devotion to God. She spent much time in prayer, and enforced to all of her Missionaries of Charity members to do the same. When she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution and works, she uttered the now famous words of, ‘I am just a pencil in the hands of the Lord’. This phrase summarised her great humility and commitment as God’s servant, entrusting herself completely to what God wanted her to do.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, are we able to follow in the footsteps of St. Teresa of Kolkata and that of many other holy saints, holy men and women who have devoted themselves to God? Are we able to let go of our pride, our desires and resist the temptations of this worldly life? Are we able to turn to the Lord, Our God, with all of our focus, attention and desire to love Him and serve Him wholeheartedly?

May the Lord be with us and may He guide us on our way, that we may truly be able to become true disciples and followers of His, in each and every action we take, and do our best to serve Him with all of our abilities, in complete humility and desire to love Him. May God bless us all and all of our endeavours. Amen.

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